Kevin Morby
(Credit: Piti Suárez)

Kevin Morby, Islington Assembly Hall – London

Gone seem to be the days of acoustic guitars and the occasional twee faux pas, Kevin Morby treated the crowd at the Islington Assembly Hall to an hour and a half of garage rock, blues guitar solo’s and jammed out improvisation. With his iconic red fender jaguar, sharp suit and bull tie Morby seem to shed his skin as a shy band member taking a turn at a solo project and take his place as a fully-fledged showman with a sense of well-deserved confidence.

Playing tracks spanning his three solo albums, the ex-Woods and Babies man, provided the audience with fan favourites like the title track from his folk orientated debut Harlem River as well as cuts from his 2014 sophomore Still Life, compiling a fair section of the evening. However, it was more recent tracks such as ‘Cut Me Down’ and ‘Drunk on a Star’ from this year’s Singing Saw which took the bias of the setlist and received great audience reaction.

Morby’s newest live incarnation consisted of hypnotic rhythm section Cyrus Gengras on bass and Justin Sullivan on drums provided tight grooves while Meg Duffy took lead guitar duties with a nonchalant show-stealing perfection. Morby and co. appear to have honed their performance and skillmanship to a sound that feels ultimately natural and complete, something he previously seemed to be striving for.

Welcoming the audience with a glee smile, Morby informed the crowd that this was his biggest solo show to date, telling stories about previous trips to London and making an anti-Trump comment (sorry America…. and the rest of the world) Morby seemed at ease with the audience in a way only seasoned touring musician can.

With a set containing a ten minute psyched out version of ‘I have been to the Mountains’, double guitar solo’s a four-song solo performance, and a hell of a lot of hair-shaking enthusiasm Morby’s live show adds an extra element to his occasionally two-dimensional records and certainly proves his abilities as a touring act and not just a recording project.

Adam Robson.

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